ALHS graduate excited about 1st season as head swimming coach

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 24, 2002

It was about 20 years ago, when she was a young girl, that Lachelle Sandon began competitive swimming at the Albert Lea Family Y.

It wasn’t long after she reached a conclusion.

Someday, she decided, she wanted to be a coach.

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Now, Sandon is early into her first season as the head coach for the Albert Lea High School girls’ swimming and diving team, and she still has plenty of youthful exuberance.

“I’ve always loved swimming,” said Sandon. “Basically, I’ve been like a fish out of water my whole life. I wanted to coach ever since I was a little girl because I had the best coach in the world for the Y swimming team.”

After competing for the Family Y’s Tigersharks team, Sandon was a four-year member of the ALHS varsity team, where she was a captain and earned all-conference honors by taking second in the Big Nine meet. She competed for one season on the swimming team at Mankato State.

Sandon’s first coaching stint was at the same place she started competitive swimming, the Family Y, where she served as the Tigersharks head coach for three years. Last year, Sandon was an assistant to Jon Schmitz for the ALHS girls’ team.

Sandon said a great group of girls has helped make the transition from assistant to head coach an easy one.

“It’s going great,” she said. “The girls are absolutely wonderful. They’ve been very supportive of me and they’re very committed to the team. I absolutely love it. It’s been really nice.”

This year’s captains, Chelsea Cole and Brooke Kaasa, have helped a lot in that area, according to Sandon.

Many of the younger girls are familiar to Sandon after coaching them at the Family Y. She also helped Schmitz with the summer swimming program this year.

Sandon’s top priority at this point is, “To form team unity” among the 44 varsity members in grades 7-12.

The coach also has a goal of getting at least five girls to state this season.

Sandon also said her predecessor has been a big help.

“Jon Schmitz has helped me out a lot,” said Sandon. “He taught me a lot on techniques and required things for coaching. He’s an inspiration for me. He told me if I ever needed anything to give him a call, and that’s great.”

Sandon said her coaching philosophy is to make sure the girls have fun while at the same time learning some valuable life lessons.

“I guess I’d like to not only work with the girls from a physical standpoint, but also mentally to prepare them for the things they’ll face in life,” said Sandon. “Athletics can teach us a lot about life and handling situations. I also like to keep it fun for the girls, joking around and stuff. If someone is upset, I try to help get them out of it. I try to keep things lighthearted. Things aren’t so bad, if you look at the big picture. The mental aspect as a big thing.”

Sandon, 29, is the daughter of Roger and Colleen Zeman of Albert Lea. She and her husband, Dave, have a 5-year-old daughter, Bailey.